Friday, November 10, 2017

Jesse James

Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang.

Already a celebrity when he was alive, he became a legendary figure of the Wild West after his death.

After the war Jessie and his brother Frank James became outlaws and established a gang that included Jessie James, Bob Younger, Cole Younger, James Younger, Bill Chadwell, Clell Miller and Charlie Pitts.
On 13th February, 1866, the gang robbed a bank at Liberty, Missouri. Over the next few years the brothers took part in twelve bank robberies, seven train robberies, four stage-coach robberies and various other crimes.

At least eleven citizens were killed by the gang. As well as their home state of Missouri they were also active in West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota.

William Stiles, alias Bill Chadwell, taken after his death. Shot directly through the heart by A. R. Manning during street fight, September 7, 1876
On September 7, 1876, the James-Younger gang attempted a raid on the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. After this robbery and a manhunt, only Frank and Jesse James were left alive and uncaptured.

With his gang nearly annihilated, James trusted only the Ford brothers, Charley and Robert. On April 3, 1882, the Fords and James prepared to depart for another robbery. They went in and out of the house to ready the horses. As it was an unusually hot day, James removed his coat, then declared that he should remove his firearms as well, lest he look suspicious. Noticing a dusty picture on the wall, he stood on a chair to clean it. Bob Ford shot James in the back of the head.
The murder of Jesse James became a national sensation. The Fords made no attempt to hide their role. Indeed, Bob Ford wired the governor to claim his reward.

Crowds pressed into the little house in St. Joseph to see the dead bandit, even while the Ford brothers surrendered to the authorities but they were dismayed to find that they were charged with first degree murder. In the course of a single day, the Ford brothers were indicted, pleaded guilty, were sentenced to death by hanging, and two hours later were granted a full pardon by Governor Crittenden.
Bob Ford operated a tent saloon in Creede, Colorado. On June 8, 1892, a man named Edward O'Kelley, went to Creede, loaded a double barrel shotgun, entered Ford's saloon and said "Hello, Bob" before shooting Bob Ford in the throat, killing him instantly.

O'Kelley was sentenced to life in prison. O'Kelley's sentence was subsequently commuted because of a 7,000 signature petition in favor of his release. The governor pardoned him on October 3, 1902.